Hi There OpenCaching community. First post here, I plan to post soon to introduce myself, but I want to ask about the status of benchmarks and get a feel for what the consensus is. I'm new here, and somehow had the impression that benchmarks had their own category. I see now that they are posted here as Virtuals, with the Benchmark attribute.
I enjoy benchmark hunting as much as searching for, well, most other cache types. I've found over a dozen US benchmarks while camping in the US (only half of which were listed on GC.com), and have posted or visited nearly 30 Canadian Benchmarks on Waymarking.com. Not to bore you, but here’s a few of my favourites:
05U623 (DCXXIII) - Ontario Legislature Building, Toronto ON
First Post - Toronto, Ontario
Canadian Benchmarks - Station: 0011912304
Stone Arch Elevation Mark (Jamestown)
I'd like to suggest a separate cache type for Benchmarks. Here's why:
: there are MANY of them available to be listed (and for the record, I think they should only be listed by someone who has found the benchmark and has good gps coordinates for it, also already discussed in this thread).
The Benchmark Hunting page at GC.Com states that there are 736,425 total benchmarks in the database.
In addition to those listed at GC.Com (which cannot be modified), a number of US and Canadian Benchmarks have been listed on Waymarking.com:
Canadian Benchmarks 3,344
U.S. Benchmarks 12,003
Public Land Survey Marks 1,223
Azimuth Benchmarks 259
: They are (relatively) popular. Again, from the Benchmark Hunting page at GC.Com:
In the last 7 days, 429 benchmarks have been logged by 122 users.
Overall, 153479 benchmarks have been recovered in 214762 logs
Combine this with the number of Benchmarks listed on Waymarking,com (somewhere around 17,000 and many of them are not just duplicates of those already listed on GC.com).
Also, I think it is worth mentioning that the 11 Virtual “benchmark” caches listed on OCNA have 16 finds (and zero dnf's), which I suspect is one of the highest find-to-hide ratios of any cache type on this site and from a quick look, seems to be quite a bit higher that the average find-rate for Virtual caches in general.
: Yes, they could be listed as Virtual caches, but in my mind that detracts from what Virtual caches are about (a really great place where a physical geocaches cannot be hidden). Let's be honest, a benchmark is sometimes - but usually not - in a really great place, and yet they can still be fun to find. As it stands now, nearly 30% of the active caches on OCNA are Virtual types, 42% are Traditional, 12% are BIT caches, and the other 10 cache types make up less than 17% of active listings.
Other reasons for allowing benchmarks to be a separate cache type:
1) They require no maintenance, and can be posted anywhere a user find a benchmark (i.e. on vacation).
2) For the most part, land management rules do not apply since nothing is being placed at the coordinates
3) Did I mention the bit about maintenance? The same benchmarks will still be available to hunt in 2, 10, 25 years from now (well, some won’t be, but majority will) regardless of what the originally poster is doing.
Potential problems with listing benchmarks:
1) They can sometimes occur in clusters of 2, 3 or more in a small area. Personally, In don’t have an issue with this but I have also seen it where someone finds a benchmark and incorrectly logs it due to another benchmark being in close proximity.
2) They are sometime inaccessible, for example on top of fire towers and other tall structures. Or are they the towers themselves? I know that the lighthouse at Dunkirk NY
has a number of benchmarks embedded in the structure near the viewing platform, not visible from the ground but they are visible if you take the tour up to the viewing platform.
In summary, I believe that having a separate cache type for benchmarks will add new interest to this site, will further increase the “uniqueness” of this site compared to some other listing sites (in the same way that this site allows Virtual, Webcam, and Guestbook caches). Benchmarks are popular. Allowing them to be listed as Virtual caches both detracts from what the Virtual category is all about, and at the same time only makes it more complicated for those who want to actively seek out benchmarks. Groundspeak starting something interesting when they created their benchmark database, but like a number of other interesting “add-ons”, they chose to create it but not to improve it. OCNA has taken the lead with a number of “grandfathered” cache types, such as Virtuals, WebCams, Moving Caches, as well as adding in more “modern” types such as BIT caches, Pod caches, and Dead Drop caches. My hope is that OCNA will also take the lead with benchmarks, a “cache type” with a decent following but little support at GC.com.